Merchants and other lyricisms
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on March 31, 2009
Today’s winning spam email does not promise me untold wealth – but nor does it refer to me as “Sir”, either. Its just a straight-up, awkwardly-phrased plea for help:
I am Mohammad Hazim an oil merchant in IRAQI, I would need you to help me out from an urgent situation, God will bless you as you listen to my cry to respond back to me so I can give you details on how you can help me out.
Please response at the below email address;
May the almighty Allah be with you
Mohammad gets points for the unusual spelling of his name (more commonly written Mohammed or Muhammad) but loses them for adjectivizing the name of his country. Surely we all know that the country is Iraq, not Iraqi.
Mohammad also gets points for his very poetic use of language – or does he? I find his use of religious rhetoric surprisingly Christian (not that Muslims would disagree with God being described as “almighty”, but it seems to have been lifted from one hymn or another), and his language in general seems to be stuck in the 1700s.
I find that this happens when people who don’t know the Arab world try to imagine how people there might speak. Rather than thinking: “they speak like us, only in Arabic”, they seem to think: “they speak like Shakespeare’s grandchildren”, giving them liberty to put all kinds of poetry and anachronism in the mouths of their imagined Arabic speakers. Hence Mohammad calls himself an “oil merchant”.
I have known several people who work in the oil industry, and that is exactly how they describe themselves: “I work in the oil industry”. I have never heard anyone describe him or herself as an oil merchant – particularly someone who in all other aspects, such as signing his or her emails “Regards”, seems to live in the 21st century.
Most of the spam that finds its way to me amuses me greatly. But spam that perpetuates stereotypes – like the idea that Arabs live in a world more primitive than ours – does not amuse me. It makes me angry, and it makes me sad.